San Juan Capistrano is a city in Orange County, California and there are tons of things to do her and places to see. Some of these places are the ZOOMARS Petting Zoo, Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, O’Neill Museum, Los Rios Historic District, Los Rios Park, Capistrano Depot, and many more.
A photo of the main road in San Juan Capistrano. (Link: https://www.dreamstime.com/editorial-stock-image-main-road-san-juan-capistrano-united-states-december-traffic-downtown-tourist-town-adobe-image70579249)
It is also where El Adobe de Capistrano or El Adobe for short is found. It is a restaurant that is said to be haunted.
A photo of the facade of El Adobe de Capistrano. (Link: https://www.ocregister.com/2014/12/17/been-there-forever-el-adobe-is-a-taste-of-times-past/)
The History Of El Adobe de Capistrano
El Adobe de Capistrano has been open since 1948 and it is made of two adobes. The northern part of El Adobe de Capistrano was the home of Miguel Yorba. The southern portion, on the other hand, was the Juzgado or the court and the jails in the area. The jail portion is now the wine cellar of the El Adobe de Capistrano restaurant and many say it is haunted by a resident ghost.
The wine cellar at the El Adobe de Capistrano restaurant. (Link: https://www.ocregister.com/2009/05/11/step-inside-an-underground-capistrano-jail-during-tour-saturday/)
Initially, one Harry and Georgia Mott Vander Leck were the ones who acquired the two properties and they combined it together to build their home and their store. By 1946, one Clarence Brown bought the property and opened the El Adobe de Capistrano restaurant. The first time it was opened was on July 8, 1948 for the wedding of the First Commandant of Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, General Fegan.
By 1955, the restaurant was bought by the Fred Harvey Company. They first served continental cuisine at El Adobe restaurant but later changed the menu to Mexican because of the comments of then-president Richard Nixon. His home was near the restaurant and he frequently dined there. Aside from it being spooky and attracting people who seek for paranormal activities, the restaurant is famous due to this reason.
The Ghosts At El Adobe de Capistrano
Since El Adobe de Capistrano’s other half was a former jail cell and a courthouse, the ghosts that haunt the area are said to be former prisoners or the relatives of such prisoners.
Some carvings on the wall of the El Adobe de Capistrano wine cellar. (Link: https://www.ocregister.com/2009/05/11/step-inside-an-underground-capistrano-jail-during-tour-saturday/)
One of the most famous ghosts here is the mother of an inmate who died in his prison cell. Accordingly, back in the day, inmates had to be supplied by their families with their food. One day, an inmate died and when his mother went to bring his food, the staff at the prison lied about where her son was. It is unclear if she ever knew about the death of her son but her ghost reportedly still looks for her son at the wine cellar area of El Adobe de Capistrano.
Staff have also reported the feeling as if someone is watching them and others have claimed they were tapped on their shoulder while no one else is around.
One report claims that a waitress abruptly quit after she reportedly saw a ghost. A bartender at El Adobe de Capistrano said, “She was crying and left and never came back.”
There were also reported that a friar haunted the front of the restaurant. Some said he was holding an ax while others claim he was headless. Is it possible that the ax that the friar could be seen holding was the same ax that beheaded him?
Other Ghosts In The Area
Halloween is a busy time in San Juan Capistrano because there are a lot of ghosts that reportedly frequent the area.
Near the El Adobe de Capistrano restaurant is a huge pepper tree and a woman with dark hair wearing white is said to stare at people. The woman is said to be either a convicted killer or a witch. Some refer to her as La Llorona. Reportedly, she is from Mexico and she was searching for her children in the area. Another version of the story of La Llorona claims that she had many illegitimate children and because she could no longer take care of them, she drowned them in the river. Now, her cries could be heard as she search the Trabuco Creek late at night.
A white lady is also said to tease people. She materializes in fog and wants all the attention to herself. She has been spotted at the Capistrano Villas, Las Brisas, Los Rios Street, and Del Obispo. She wears a long white dress and wants people to catch her but whenever they come near her, she vanishes. She is said to be a very playful ghost.
Mission San Juan Capistrano is also said to be haunted. It is a former Spanish mission founded in 1776 in colonial Las Californias by Spanish Catholic missionaries of the Franciscan Order. Here, there were many people who died during an earthquake in 1812. One of the ghosts is said to be Magdalena, a young girl who lost her life during the earthquake. She was at the church and was holding a candle when the earthquake struck the area. During evening with a fingernail moon, her face is said to be seen in the area and is illuminated by a candle located in the highest window of the ruins of the Mission.
What remains of Mission San Juan Capistrano. (Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/38389666885)
Also, a faceless monk is seen in this area who roams the back corridors of the ruins of the church. A headless soldier has also been spotted here who still stands guard near the garrison building even if he no longer has a head. Lastly, what’s more haunting than the sound of the tolling of the bells at night when no one is there to do the job?